Title-winning Harleston gunning for the double
After wrapping up the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division title, Harleston Town manager Adam Gusterson has set his sights on winning the double.
Twelve months ago Gusterson’s men lost their final-day winner-takes-all contest with Norwich CBS, who were crowned champions and duly moved on up into the Thurlow Nunn League set-up.
By chance, they found themselves in a similar scenario on Saturday, but this time around a 1-0 victory — thanks to a Scott Roberts goal — away at second-placed Mulbarton Wanderers meant it was Harleston who were celebrating come the final whistle.
Having banished the negative memories of last season, Gusterson was full of praise for the mental resilience his players have shown over recent months.
“The build up to the game was very nervy, but that is the best way to win a league,” said the manager.
“We were on the opposite side of it last year and it hurt, so it is nice to see how it feels to win it that way.
“We achieved what we set out to do this season — we really wanted to win it.
“We were the favourites and credit should go to Mulbarton because they chased us brilliantly; we could never shake them off and get away.
“With all that going on, and the memories of last season, we have been under a lot of pressure.
“It is a real testament to the boys that they have come through it as champions.”
Harleston now have the chance to secure a league and cup double when they take on Sheringham in the Mummery Cup final on Tuesday at the FDC in Bowthorpe (7.15pm).
Just as they were in the title race, Harleston will be strong favourites, with their opponents currently occupying one of the promotion places in Division One.
“Norwich CBS could not win the double last season, so there is an added incentive for us to improve on what they achieved last year,” added Gusterson.
“It is another trophy and you cannot win enough of those.
“We will prepare properly and look to end what has already been a good season on a real high note.”
With regard to next term, Harleston have been provisionally accepted in their bid to move up to Step 6 and the Thurlow Nunn League First Division.
It is expected that their place will be ratified in mid-May, once the current campaign has ended.
It is also anticipated that Mulbarton, who finished runners-up to Harleston, will join them.